April 20, 2020At Canada’s post-secondary institutions, online learning options are rapidly expanding. The Canadian Digital Learning Research Association’s latest report gives us a comprehensive look at the state of online learning in Canada, and highlights that 76% of institutions offer some form of online learning, and that interest in a wide range of alternative credentials continues to grow. In the current global context, this data is more relevant than ever and quickly changing.
In a previous issue of Perspectives, we shared the online, distance, and blended learning approaches that colleges and institutes have championed in almost every subject area. With such a strong history in online and blended learning methods, colleges and institutes all across the country were able to respond to distancing measures associated with COVID-19 incredibly quickly.
Within a week, Collège communautaire de Nouveau-Brunswick shared that it had converted 85 of its programs to online formats allowing 2,000 students to continue learning despite campus closures; in just four days, College of the North Atlantic implemented an extensive Academic Programs Continuity Plan to move 181 of 205 programs online; and at St Lawrence College classes are being delivered through a combination of online and digital simulations and collaborations until August, to name just a few. And now, as many colleges and institutes are working through the finer points of transitioning their regular programming online, still more are moving to train and support students, faculty, and community partners in unique online ways:
- BCIT has created an online, self-directed fast-track education course to help frontline registered nurses and healthcare providers acquire the focused knowledge they need to provide support to patients with COVID-19.
- Algonquin College is launching a series of free virtual training opportunities ranging in length from two to four days to support the local business community. Courses include Business Analysis in an Agile Environment, Project Management, and Change Management.
- As a way of saying thank you to community members for doing their part to limit the spread of COVID-19, Canadore College is offering modules from six general education courses free online on topics ranging from astronomy to film and world culture.
- The Centre for Teaching, Learning, and Innovation at Lethbridge College is offering its first, freely available open course on facilitating online learning for instructors, aiming to address challenges of online student retention and satisfaction and offer practical strategies for online classrooms.
- Collège La Cité, in collaboration with a local radio station and the newspaper Le Droit is offering a series of free public webinars on subjects like business, health, and family, and has developed a resources website designed for students adapting to distance learning during this time.
- Collège de Rosemont, in Montreal, quickly formed a new partnership with Insertech, a local tech company, to ensure that students have the equipment they need to successfully continue their studies at home.
- Elsewhere in Quebec, many institutions have taken advantage of funding through the government’s Programme d’actions concertées pour le maintien en emploi (Unified actions to maintain employment) plan to ensure that businesses are able to successfully rebound once COVID-19 measures are lifted:
- The Collège de Maisonneuve shared that it is improved online course offerings through the program, developing short training opportunities in online project management and team coordination, human resources, and managing a culture of diversity in the workplace.
- While the Cégep de Rimouski is offering 35 new training opportunities for businesses including strategies in remote working, file-sharing and online communications and language improvement classes.